Researchers with the Campaign for Accountability, a non-profit watchdog group, spent $35 to successfully purchase politically divisive advertisements while flagrantly posing as Russian trolls in order to test Google’s ad platform security.
According to Buzzfeed News, the group bought the ad space with Russian currency, using a Russian ZIP code and operating under the guise of the Internet Research Agency, the main Kremlin-linked troll farm that’s been the subject of many congressional hearings and featured in special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictments. Google approved the advertisements — which were indistinguishable from ads created by the infamous troll farm — without delay. The ads appeared on YouTube and several well known media outlets, according to Buzzfeed.
The “stunt,” as Google called it, came just days after the company promised users it had instated “robust systems” designed to recognize “influence operations launched by foreign governments.” In a statement to Buzzfeed on Tuesday, Google said it may now adjust it’s screening practices to combat “our U.S.-based competitors” who are “actively misrepresenting” themselves.
Read Buzzfeed’s entire article here.